180715_SEAQuotes_TitoVillalba

ATL vs SEA | Post-Match Quotes

  • Match: Atlanta United vs Seattle Sounders
  • Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
  • Date: July 15th, 2018
  • Final Score: ATL 1-1 SEA (Recap | Highlights)

ATLANTA UNITED FC

Atlanta United head coach Tata Martino

On being more disappointed in the result or the factors that led to result:

“I’m calm with the production of the team today. It’s difficult to play against a defense that sits so far back and just plays very defensively. It’s difficult to break that defense down. I thought we did it pretty well at times, especially in the second half. But it’s hard to do. The only thing I would say, and it’s not worrisome, but something we could work on is to have somebody other than Josef (Martinez) in and around the box  who’s able to score goals for us. We need to try to have more guys in goal scoring positions.”

On altering the formation to have more people in the box:

“We just need to get more guys in the box. We are able to move the ball to the outsides and send those crosses back in.”

On the VAR system, in particular how Seattle delayed the game before VAR decision:

“I think that’s up to the referee to make that decision if players are delaying the game for whatever reason. I think that after they went to VAR, they got the call correct. It was a penalty. But I also think there was a clear penalty on Chris McCann for a foul inside the box off a corner kick in the first half. He gets grabbed around the neck. It’s pretty visible, maybe not by the referee, because he is not in the correct position to make the call, but if they would have checked it, they would have seen the foul. I think what I’m seeing in the World Cup is that it’s not so much players delaying the games when they want them to go to VAR. I think it’s whoever is controlling VAR makes a quick decision and alerts the referee and he will tell the players to wait, that it’s being checked. Today, in the case with the foul on McCann, what worries me is not the fact that they missed it and didn’t call foul. What worries me more is if they did a check and somehow didn’t think that was a foul.”

On teams figuring out how to play at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:

“No I don’t think so. Orlando also came in here and played the same way, and we were able to get a positive result. I think it’s not our job to worry about how teams are going to play. They are going to do what’s best for them tactically, so that they can get the best result for them. It’s our job to worry about us and figure out how we are going to solve that. We’ve played a good number of games like that already and we expect there will be more similar games. We know it’s something we will have to manage. We know in football that some teams are more attacking and some more defensive. I think what the league needs to solve is the stuff that goes on during the game. The delays, the asking for fouls or asking for different decisions. All the other stuff that goes on, that’s something they could work on.”

On VAR system singling out Atlanta United for some reason:

“No, sometimes it’s in our favor and sometimes it’s not. I don’t think it’s anything specifically against Atlanta. Today I would say it was the correct call; it was a penalty. Maybe what we could look at is the speed of the reviews. Today, for example, I had a message from my house that dinner was ready but they were still reviewing VAR, so they should be a little faster.”

On expecting the Sounders to play so defensively today:

“I don’t think it was just their defense. I think it was the team that made the decision to play that way and looking back on the game, they were able to get a result out of it. If we had scored another goal, it changes the game and we might be saying something else. But they are able to get a result today.”

Atlanta United midfielder Jeff Larentowicz

On the VAR decision to give the penalty and how you overcome that:

“You don’t. You wait until they make the call, and you live with it. It seemed like multiple times in the first half he (head referee Baldomero Toledo) was speaking to the VAR. Then they obviously got the penalty from a VAR call, so you live with it and move on.”

On Seattle’s stall tactic to get the VAR decision:

“There’s a bit of a grey area in my understanding of the rules. You can either purposefully deny or the ref can force you to wait. There’s been times where we’ve wanted to play quickly and to pass, and they’ve stopped us to allow VAR to assess what happened. I think that’s the rule. I think that the ref can slow it down. I don’t know who slowed it down first; (Nicolás) Lodeiro to not take the corner or Toledo to speak with the VAR, but it seemed inevitable in that first half. Something was going to happen via VAR.”

On why he thought it was inevitable:

“He was on the phone a lot, man. He was on the phone a lot. It just seemed like something was going to happen, and it did.”

On if he thinks they responded well to Seattle’s physicality:

“We were up for the game. They were obviously up for the game as well. Their coach said before the game that they play in front of big crowds. They’re probably the first team in this league to consistently pay in front of big crowds, so it was something that they were used to. I think that they came in with intensity. In the first half, we matched it. At halftime, we made some really simple adjustments and scored very, very quickly. It seemed like we would be on the right path. They dug in a bit. We didn’t take our chances, and it ended that way.”

On the halftime adjustments and what they were specifically:

“Moving the ball quicker. When a team sits back, you’re going to end up having more time on the ball than you usually do (and) at which point, you want to pick your head up and survey the options and play quarterback when really the thing to do is move it quickly, get it to the next guy, and force them to move. Then the gaps open up.”

On what has happened recently during the home skid:

“Teams are playing differently. When you go on the road and teams are playing at home, they’re going to play differently. The gameplan has switched for teams when they come play here. It seems like there is a formula, and like we’ve said to ourselves, it’s up to us to crack it. It’s between us, each other, what we do with the ball, and whether we can crack the code. I think teams are coming in with a similar gameplan to sit back and try to counter. You can see in the first half as soon as they got the ball they went as quick as possible. I thought we dealt with it well. That’s just the case. I think we should expect it every game at home from here on out.”

On whether he thinks they played better than the result:

“No. The result is the result, unfortunately. When you hit it hard at the shortstop, it’s an out. So, you have to find a way, and unfortunately, we haven’t found that way. Today, we didn’t. Opportunities were there, but you have to finish them off.”

On whether he is concerned about slipping in the race for the Supporter’s Shield:

“We have thirteen games left? Is that right? Let’s deal with the thirteen games and see what happens.”

Atlanta United midfielder Chris McCann

On the frustration of not getting three points and the role of VAR:

“I think it was a bit of both to be honest. I thought the penalty was questionable. I just looked at it back there. I think Franco (Escobar) is turning his back as the ball is getting shot. It’s just an unfortunate one. I think going to VAR, and it being given, is a bitter taste considering we had just seen some of the plays in the game. That one on Miggy (Miguel Almíron) at the end. I think I (was) manhandled in the box twice, as well, and other occasions that we should have had a penalty, but they weren’t given. So, to be honest, there isn’t any real consistency. It’s disappointing that we couldn’t make the most of it at the end. We missed some good opportunities, myself included, to take the three points. We can’t afford to keep dropping points at home: two against Portland and Seattle. It’s just disappointing for us, but we have another home game to put it right next week.”

On Chris McCann’s missed chance in the second half:

“It was one where I thought Leandro (Gonzalez Pirez) had scored because he was right there. It hit the bar then it hit me in an awkward place then just fell to my feet. I couldn’t get it out of my feet with enough power to hit it. The one place I did hit was the keeper (at) his legs. It’s just typical. (I’m) probably better off just stuffing it into the ground and it would’ve went in, but it is what it is, we’ll take the point and move on now.”

On the difficulty of playing at home this year:

“I think teams have caught on to what were about, what we’re like when we’re playing at home: the atmosphere, the tempo that we play at, everything surrounding playing here at Mercedes-Benz (Stadium). I think teams have come here with a better gameplan than they did last year. They come back and pack it out to try to make it real difficult for us then hit us on the counter. We’ve got to find ways to deal with that. We’ve got to be better at dealing with that. (In the) second half, I thought we came out with a lot more hunger, and we moved the ball a lot better (and) a lot quicker. We created a lot of opportunities and on another day, they would’ve gone in.”

On VAR’s role in Seattle’s penalty kick:

“I think that’s where VAR is becoming a little bit of a funny game because they tell you that you can only VAR until the next play has started. It’s just typical what he’s done there. He’s delayed as long as he possibly could to get it checked. I don’t know. Some things are going to need to be cleared up because things keep happening. You get guys that score goals and don’t celebrate anymore because they’re afraid it will be VAR’d. I just think it needs to be cleared up a little bit more.” 

On whether there is frustration due to the home record in the last six games:

“Obviously, it’s frustrating to drop points at home. We pride ourselves in being strong here and taking maximum points here. As I said, teams are coming here to make it more difficult for us. They’re not letting us play the way we want to play. That’s down to us, just finding better ways to deal with that: being better with the ball, being quicker with the ball, making better decisions with the ball. It’s frustrating, but we’re the only ones who can put that right. We’ve got another home game next week against DC United to do that.”

On the concern about the Supporter’s Shield being taken out of their control:

“No. You can’t get to carried away with yourself. It’s only one result. There’s a long way to go, a lot to play for. When we spoke at the training ground and said you have to take it one game at a time, that’s what you have to do. This isn’t an ideal result, but as I said we have DC (United) at home and hopefully, we can take the three points. We can get momentum going into the back end of the season and try to go on a little bit of a run.”

On whether Seattle’s defense was ‘as tight as expected’:

“It’s just that they try to pack things out as much as they can to make it difficult for us. It’s just one of those games where they sat back and were happy to let us have the ball in front of them. They made it difficult to penetrate, and they forced us to make some passes that on a normal day we probably would not make. We would take the extra pass. It is what it is, but we’re going to go back to the training ground tomorrow and hopefully, we can resolve some things to make ourselves better for next week.”

Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan

On opponents’ ‘slowing it down and packing it in’ when playing at Mercedes-Benz Stadium :

“We know teams are going to do that – plain and simple. We have to find a way to overcome it and put the ball in the back of the net.”

On VAR coming into play again in today’s match:

“You don’t want to know my thoughts. Go to the next one.”

On the Escobar play (handball):

“No, I don’t think he thought so either in terms of the referee. It’s a bang-bang play. I spoke to Frank a little after words he said it comes off his face then comes off his hand which is next to his body. If you give that okay fine, but I know from talking to some of the boys afterwards that there were easily some other penalties that were in our favor in the second half. So if you’re going to give that, then you got to give others, but obviously it wasn’t the case tonight.”

On the last 15 minutes of the second half:

“I think it was a case of them just trying to hold on. They obviously came here with a game plan to try and get a point. It was a fair play to them in terms of being successful in that aspect. We created chances, you know the one that comes off of Leo (Gonzalez Pirez) then hits the crossbar. I think Chris (McCann) gets a toe poke. Overall, it wasn’t our day in terms of being able to score multiple goals. On another day, that game is probably four or five (goals) for us.”

On feeling ‘singled out’ when it comes to the VAR:

“That can certainly be the case. There are some headscratchers when it comes to the VAR (and) when it comes to different moments in games – for and against us. Yeah. I don’t know. I don’t have an answer for you. That’s for someone higher up.”

Atlanta United midfielder Julian Gressel

On ‘dropping points’ at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:

“You see how the game goes. You obviously want to win it. You deserve to win it, so it’s ultimately two dropped points for us. We will have to make that up somewhere or hope that other teams drop points as well. No doubt we are in the race for the Supporter’s Shield. We want to win that. Unfortunately, that’s how games go sometimes (where) you can’t find the back of the net. Last home game, we scored four. I wish we would have saved ourselves one and scored it tonight. But that’s just how it is sometimes.”

On Seattle delaying play before the VAR decision on the penalty kick:

“I guess the way I understand it is that VAR is an ongoing process. As soon as the play is over, they check it. If there is any doubt, the referee stops the play. Obviously, they are smart. They take their time and then ultimately, it leads to a penalty. The thing that’s just a little bit frustrating as a player is that you are on the field for that situation and it takes up to five minutes to come up with the decision. Whatever the decision is ultimately, whether it’s a handball or not a handball, I haven’t even seen it yet. I don’t know. He decides to make the penalty call. He walks over to the VAR and takes his time. It takes forever for him to decide to go to VAR. Then, he walks over there, looks at it, then he walks back and it takes a bit of time. That part is a little frustrating as a player, when you are on the field whatever the decision is. Also, the consistency of it, you look in the first half (where) Chris McCann gets wrestled down in the box, and they don’t even check or look at it. The consistency piece of it still needs to improve along with the speed of making decisions. Ultimately, that’s what it’s all about, making a decision.”

On his assist to Josef Martinez:

“I get in that half space again and I looked up and saw Josef making a run in behind the center backs. I figured that he was pretty close to goal already so I decided to float it up there. I know he can jump pretty high and he did a great job finishing the play.”

On opposing teams coming into Atlanta and the pace in which they play:

“You just have to stay patient. Patience is very, very big in these type of games. You have to just keep going at it. Sometimes, you find the goal. We did early in the second half, and I think that helped to open it up a little bit – even with them still having 11 men. I think we were on top of the game, controlling the play and then they go down a man. Now, we are even more on top, but they obviously fighting for their lives here. Everybody that comes here is happy with a draw here. We have to understand that as a team and just be patient and keep moving the ball to create chances. Hopefully, those chances then turn into goals.”

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC

Seattle Sounders FC head coach Brian Schmetzer

On the match:

“The mentality of the group was strong. They overcame a lot of adversity, even in the first half to get a goal, to get 1-0 at half. Then obviously, they came out and scored a goal early. We were under pressure and they withstood some of that even numbers. Then when Jordan (McCrary) got a second yellow, they had to finish the game down to 10 men. Their resolve was really strong. They never quit, they never gave up and they came together as a group. Obviously, they were defending for their lives, but it’s great.”

On being up a goal at halftime:

“We were a little disappointed giving up that goal right after halftime. The longer it went into the second half, the more pressure on them. Could we have grabbed another counter attack? Could we have gained some more possession in their half of the field? Maybe. But that took a little bit of wind out of our sails, because coming out of halftime; I thought the guys were in good spirits.”

On Jordan McCrary’s two yellow cards:

“Again, referees, this was not an easy game to call. I think in the first half the game was getting very chippy. We were talking to the fourth official to try and get them to settle the game down. Was that just a byproduct? Did get Jordan get called? Was it a yellow? I’d probably say yes. But, the fact of the matter is that kid worked his you-know-what off to try and help this team in this last little stretch of games. I have nothing but praise for the kid. He works hard.”

On Seattle’s bench getting deeper with players returning from injuries:

“Yeah, it’s great. Chad (Marshall) has a little bit of a tight hamstring, so Gustav (Svensson) comes on, does a great job. Ozzie (Alonso) comes back on the field. Good. I think again, it’s just a testament to the group that we put out there. They are all fighting for each other. I’m happy to have those options.”

On Raul Ruidiaz not playing:

“The only reason why he did not come on was because after the second yellow, we needed Will Bruin to be a big, strong, target guy. We had to dump balls from goal kicks and set pieces. He needed to win some of those balls. It was our decision to leave Will on in a more defensive game. But certainly, we will see (Raul) Ruidiaz at home next weekend.”

On Stefan Frei:

“Great. He’s been good since he’s been here. All credit goes to Tommy Dutra. He works the goalkeepers hard and Stef is a byproduct of Tommy’s coaching.”

On their good form on the road:

“I like the mentality of the group, yes, but, we need to collect three points, three points, three points. I’m not absolutely complaining about our road form. I went back to Toronto, we grabbed points. Sporting Kansas City, we probably left a few points on the table. Our road form has been good, so now, we are going to work on getting points at home.”

On going for the win instead of being more defensive:

“Down a man, it’s tough. Had the game stayed 11-on-11, yeah. I was thinking about it. But, the game changed after the second yellow.”

On the record attendance crowd and comparing it to Seattle’s crowds:

“This one was, in numbers, it was more. I think the crowd in CenturyLink and the crowd here, these are the hallmark franchises as far as getting people in buildings and having good atmospheres. Now, some of the smaller buildings, like we opened up LAFC, Portland always have good environments. There’s other places that certainly bring a lot of noise (and) a lot of atmosphere. But, certainly you have to look tonight and at our crowd, as far as sheer numbers are concerned, numbers don’t lie.”

Seattle Sounders FC goalkeeper Stefan Frei

On tonight's game:

“A hard fought one point, like I said, obviously we had a chance to get three (points) and it would've been nice, but once you go down a man in this environment and against a team that's very dangerous up top, and I think their coach has really got them going. They've got a good game plan and they were pushing and knocking hard at the door but we were able to absorb pressure and get a point. Overall, a good night by the boys and we really had to put in a good shift to take a point home.”

On leading at the half:

“It's great. In the later stages of the game, they were the ones putting in crosses, but especially, in the first half we found some joy on set pieces, corners, free kicks and just in general. Long balls being put in and giving our target guys a chance to go up for it, we did well with that. Throughout the game, I think we took care of the space behind quite well. That’s something that they’re targeting, something that they try to exploit and coax you out to increase that gap and then penetrate behind and punish you. I thought that we barely allowed them to do that so they were forced to counter or go out wide and go over crosses. It was good to disrupt their favorite game plan and make them adjust a little bit.”

On communicating with his defenders:

“You’re just trying to keep them going, keep them going. The legs are tired. The mind gets tired and then, just trying to encourage them to dig deep and see if we can give it a little bit more, a little bit more, keep hanging in there. Because absorbing that amount of pressure is taxing mentally, but physically, you have to absorb so much. Then, when I have the ball in my hands, I have a few precious seconds that will allow them to go up and hopefully, we can maintain a couple seconds of possession and then, it’s back in the shell. It's extremely difficult, but they fought really hard today and deservedly got at least a point.”

On the club's mentality:

“It's good. Like I said, we would've liked to have three (points). I thought, if we keep all eleven (players) on the pitch we have a chance at three. But this game, this point, mentally was a long way. Like I said, this is a difficult team to play against in their stadium, difficult environment. Not a lot of teams find joy here, so for us to go down a man and still fight and hang on and get a point, mentally that's going to go a long way. We've shown now that we can get results on the road and get something out of games on the road. Going home now, we really have to get those there points at home. If these last two away games in the regular season year, you're extremely happy with that. But for us, it's coming down to the wire. It's nice considering the circumstances, but the next game is going to be huge for us, we need three points.”

On the 'chipiness' of tonight's game:

"I mean I think we've been aggressively tackled for the whole season, especially our crafty guys, I'm talking about Victor (Rodriguez) and Nico (Lodeiro) in particular, but that is a strategy to disrupt quality players and obviously, they had the same thing on their side. A guy like (Miguel) Almirón, you don't want to just back off of him and give him too much space, you want to go and disrupt his flow and make every step, every pass, everything he has to earn and make him uncomfortable. So, it was chippy back-and-forth on both sides, but that's a hard fought game between two good sides."

On Mercedes-Benz Stadium:

“Very excited for the sport in this country. You see LAFC, Atlanta and the new stadium now in D.C., these are big stadiums. Hopefully, the crowds can sustain and keep coming out even when the honeymoon phase wears off because I think it's special. We have lots other sports that sellout big stadiums – football, basketball have great atmospheres – but I think different atmospheres. Soccer is unique and hopefully, they can maintain that and new teams can look at this as an example and really try to take it up even another step or at least compete. It's only for the better for the sport in this country, and I’m excited to see it.”

Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro

On today’s match:

“I feel good, a little tired, but it was a hard, tough game. We fought more than we played, but in the end, it is important because we got one point.”

On getting points in the last three road games:

“It is good for us. We know we need to train more. We need to play the same. We know this is the way because we need more points.

On his penalty kick:

“It was a surprise for me because when he touched the ball I thought, ‘Oh, no. I missed the penalty.’ I got lucky. Sometimes, I need it. It was good for the team too, because we needed that.”

On the team’s mentality:

“This is the best for us because we didn’t lose. We gained a point away. In this league, this is more difficult when you play away. We need to train more. We need to play better. So, this point is more important if we win at home.”

On playing at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:

“Very good. It’s big. It was impressive for me. We have a big stadium, too. Not the same, but we have a big stadium and we have really good fans.”

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